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Arizona governor to increase access to treatment drugs for inmates
Posted in Advocacy, Drug Addiction Treatment, Recovery - 0 Comments

Getting access to addiction treatment in jails is not easy for the inmates. To address this problem, Arizona Governor Doug Doucey recently issued an executive order to make drug Vivitrol, often used in addiction treatment, more widely available to inmates in jails and prisons in Arizona.

In January 2017, the governor outlined several steps that his state would take towards the problem of opioid addiction during his annual “state of the state” address.

According to the order, addicted inmates would enter a pilot program and undergo a treatment with Vivitrol before being released. Inmates would continue to receive treatment even after their release. Vivitrol is an extended-release injectable form of drug naltrexone.

“This executive order is intended to decrease recidivism and give these inmates a second chance at leading a healthy life,” said a statement from the governor’s office. Recidivism is often a problem with drug offenders and according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 77 percent drug offenders return to jail within five years. But treatment in jails can help tackle the problem. As per the Pew Charitable Trusts, prison drug treatment programs cuts recidivism dramatically.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that Arizona reported a 4.4 percent increase in drug overdose deaths between 2014 and 2015, an increase the CDC does not see as statistically significant. Opioids were involved in over 33,000 deaths in 2015, says the CDC.

What does naltrexone do?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), naltrexone prevents people from experiencing the sedative and narcotic effects of opioids by binding to and blocking opioid receptors.

Opioids are chemically similar to neurotransmitters in the body and when they bind with opioid receptors, the body produces large amounts of neurotransmitter dopamine. It is used in the body’s reward system and large amounts create the euphoric “high.” Put simply, people using naltrexone no longer feels high when they use opioids.

The Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which approved Vivitrol in 2010, conducted a study on the effects of Vivitrol. They found that patients who were given Vivitrol were more likely to stay in treatment and avoid using drugs. The FDA study showed that 36 percent patients who were given Vivitrol stayed in treatment for the entire six-month period as opposed to the 23 percent patients in a placebo group.

Opt for treatment and not jail

Addiction can lead to many risks and problems – financial ruin, isolation from friends and family, death – but one risk which often goes unspoken is the risk of arrest. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reported that drugs and alcohol play a role in around 80 percent of crimes leading to incarceration in the U.S. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says prison-based drug treatment programs benefit both prisoners and the society at large. Thus, the authorities can think of providing help before going ahead with arrests.

Sovereign Health’s Chandler, Arizona, treatment facility for women specializes in treating the survivors of abuse and trauma. It offers effective and evidence-backed treatment in a calm, safe environment. Our center offers a welcoming environment to women seeking treatment for addiction and mental illness so that they can move past their problems and usher into a healthier life. Contact our 24/7 helpline for more information.

About the author

Brian Moore is a staff writer and graphic designer for Sovereign Health. A 20-year veteran of the newspaper industry, he writes articles and creates graphics across Sovereign’s portfolio of marketing and content products. Brian enjoys music, bicycling and playing the tuba, which he’s done with varying degrees of success for over 25 years. For more information and other inquiries about this media, contact the author and designer at

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